Sunday, December 27, 2015

2015 Topps Valor Football Cards

Grabbed some of the 2015 Topps Valor Football cards earlier this month.  I always enjoy the Valor brand of football cards and this year is no different.  Each card has a prominent photo of the player against a smoky colored background in team colors.  The photos have an "art style" look to them.  I can't explain any better but hopefully by looking at them you'll get it.  There is also a nice prominent team logo at the bottom of the fronts.  There are plenty of subsets and I grabbed a Gridiron Warriors and Honor card.  These are very similar to the base cards.  The backs have a nice write-up as well the team logo, player information and some basic stats.  The photos and layout do it for me.   They are just good looking combined with the team colors.  Price point on these are a bit high which has always bummed me out but I guess that is what you get with a "higher end" set.  Again great looking cards which I highly recommend.   

Star Wars: The Force Awakens **Spoilers Included**

**MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD**I've seen it.  Twice.  Like many Star Wars fan boys and girls I've been waiting for this movie for a very long time and I loved it.  This movie had the look and feel of the original trilogy and I thought the storyline was very good even if it did parallel the Star Wars: A New Hope a bit too closely.  Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a great movie.  Many if not all of the major plot points were talked about or written about prior to the movie but nothing was ever known for certain which was great in itself. 

The movie really was Han Solo's movie.  We all knew he was in it but given Harrison Ford's lack of love for the franchise I really expected his part to be a somewhat smaller than what we actually see.  I was pleasantly surprised to see he was featured so prominently  Rey, the female lead and scavenger links up with Finn, an ex-stormtrooper, who while abandoning his life in the First Order saved the best pilot of the Rebellion.  Rey has also has the droid, BB-8, with the map to Luke Skywalker who has gone into seclusion after one of his padawans goes to the dark side.   They must deliver the droid to the Rebellion.  As they escape the First Order they link up with Han and Chewie. 

Han and Chewie decide to drop Rey and Fin somewhere they can make it back to the rebellion.  After being attacked by the First Order and Sith bad guy Kylo Ren, Han talks to Leia when the rebellion saves the day.  During the attack Rey is taken by Ren and the First Order.  Here it is also revealed that Kylo Ren is Han and Leia's son.  From there the rebellion makes plans to destroy the First Orders planet destroying weapon the Starkiller Base which is built into a planet.

Han, Chewy,  and Finn head off to the Starkiller Base to make sure the shields are down to allow the rebellion fighters to destroy the weapon.  Finn's main goal was actually to save Rey who has already escaped as she figures out she has force powers.  They are able to lower the shields and now altogether look at helping blow up the weapon.  As they are setting charges to do the job Han sees his son Kylo Ren.  Leia had asked Han to bring their son home and Han talks to Kylo Ren hoping to do just that.  Han uses Ren's real name, Ben, when he speaks to him.  It looks as though Kylo Ren might just turn away from the dark side when he ignites his light saber, which he had been handing to Han, and kills Han Solo.  Chewy then shoots Ren which injures him but does not kill him.

Chewy blows the charges and Ren and Finn escape.  A confrontation with Ren happens in the forrest.  Ren takes down Finn and Rey is able to get the lightsaber setting up the big fight.  Due to the planet falling apart neither Finn nor Kylo Ren die and Chewy saves the day rescuing Finn and Rey.  They return to the rebel base after Starkiller Base is destroyed.  BB-8 teams up with R2-D2 who has been in self imposed power down mode until now to combine maps to show the location of Luke Skywalker.  Rey, Chewy and R2 then go to find Luke which they do.  The final scene is Rey holding his lightsaber out to Luke atop a rocky island.  And there the movie ends.

I have definitely left out key plot points or scenes but that is the gist of the movie.  One big one is Supreme Leader Snoke.  He is the mysterious leader of the new order and apparent mentor to Kylo Ren.  He is only shown in holographic images as he speaks to Ren and First Order leadership.  There is still much to be explored.  Will Luke return and what will his role be?  Will he mentor Rey?  Will he actually be seen in fights?  Who is Rey's parents?  Many, many ways the next movie can go  I'm very curious where they take it.

Bottom line is I loved this movie.  Again it has the feel of what we grew up loving.  I'm not an Episodes I-III hater but this movie is what we all expected years ago but didn't get.  Lots of good things with movie with very few negatives.  You have to see this movie.  It is a great jumping on for Star Wars as we move forward and there are plenty of great characters (many of which I haven't mentioned).  The fact that J.J. Abrams won't be directing the next film worries me a little but this is a great foundation so hopefully whoever has the next movie will use this as their template.  Until then you have to go see this movie. 

Star Wars Black Series 6 Inch First Order Stormtrooper

I'm a Star Wars guy, a stormtrooper guy, and an action figure guy so the 6" Hasbro Black series of action figures are great.  That said I hadn't purchased one yet.  That was due to multiple factors but I finally had to do it no matter what havoc it reaped on my Christmas budget.  When I saw the 6" First Order Stormtrooper I couldn't say no.  I hadn't seen it anywhere before and had to have it.  I haven't been disappointed.  This is a great looking figure.  It has nice detail and articulation while the size allows it to really show well.  Again I really like stormtroopers and those from the new movie have a look I also really like.  So here are a few pictures of my figure in and out of the box.  Yes, I'm that guy who takes them out of the box but that is ok. Now I just need to pick up the original 6" stormtrooper and I'll be good.